Monday, December 28, 2009

My New Years Resolutions and the Gospel

I'm a sucker for a good new years resolution. I love them. Which is not to say that I keep them any longer than the average Joe, but still, I love setting ambitious goals and dreaming about what I might be able to accomplish in the year ahead.

I've begun thinking about several goals that I want to accomplish during the coming year.

1. Be intentional about making my sermons more memorable.
2. Become more informed on the topic of eschatology. (one of my weakest areas of theology)
3. Cultivate a more biblical prayer life.

Sometime while I was thinking about number three is when it hit me. I'm a christian (this was not the big revelation). And so many of my new years resolutions (and other goals set throughout the year) are focused on improving my spiritual life. And yet, many of my spiritual goals are an exercise in what my professor Bryan Chapell used to call sola bootstrapsa.

That is to say, I enjoy setting goals. And the goal of having a more biblical prayer life is an admirable goal. But I go about trying to reach my goal in a completely unbiblical way. I might follow all the best advice about achieving my goal, such as writing my goal down, telling my goal to someone who can hold me accountable (ya'll), and gritting my teeth really hard. But in doing so I've managed to leave Jesus out of the equation.

I realized that having an unbiblical prayer life is a sin. And the bible has a solution for sin, and it has nothing to do with goal management, gritting my teeth, or "just trying harder." The solution is the gospel.

So I need to begin by confessing my sin, and asking Jesus to forgive me (1 John 1:9). Then I need to remind myself that Jesus had a perfectly obedient prayer life, and by faith, his obedience is counted as mine (Galatians 2:20). Therefore I am totally accepted by God (Ephesians 2:4-6). I have confidence that in approaching God he has nothing but mercy, and grace to help me in my time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16). And part of his grace includes the gift of the Holy Spirit, by whose ministry in my own life, I can put to death the deeds of the body, and live by the Spirit (Romans 8:12-15).

In other words, I'm pretty sure God would like for me to pray more. But He would like me to go about it in the power that he provides through the gospel. So my New Years uber-resolution, will be to go about all my resolutions by the power of the gospel, and this I will do, by the grace of God (Philippians 4:13).

1 comment:

Ken said...

I would add to that, read "A Praying Life" by Paul Miller.


He addresses heart issues in there that really unearth why it is that we don't pray. Or, to put it another way, he gets at why we aren't believing the gospel in reference to prayer.